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English is my second language and I mainly learn it from shows like modern family and the bigbang theory.

I know what “no offense” means, but I don’t think I fully understand its usage. I’ve seen many people saying it before they say something insulting. But does including “no offense” make the statement less offensive? I don’t really get why people use it...

  • I think it has more to do with the recipient becoming more recipient of the message due to the deliberate choice of acting less defensively. Not sure what the exact psychology behind it is. – Boondoggle Jul 14 at 5:38
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    I think that starting with "no offense" is simply acknowledging that the speaker is aware that what follows may cause offense and is hoping to tone down the reaction. – KillingTime Jul 14 at 6:14
  • Thank you for the comment! – kyrhee Jul 14 at 17:49
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    Well, if you are getting your English from Big Bang, you should be aware that they have many examples of usage which might be common, but are not quite right. Penny says stuff all the time like: "I am literally dying to go there". – Cascabel Jul 14 at 19:41
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    My unsympathetic reading of the phrase "no offense" is that its user is trying to pre-emptively escape blame for saying something obviously offensive. – user888379 Jul 14 at 21:28
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"No offense" is short for "No offense intended." I'm adding this answer because it wasn't explicitly stated in the comments and someone reading the question might not get the full idea: It means "I'm going to speak bluntly but don't mean to hurt you by saying it." Even so, as user 888379 indicates, it might not be said sincerely.

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